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– New York Times
Bel challenges our conventions — just as working on this piece changed his.
– Time Out New York
...grateful for what it revealed to me about what is often called ‘our common humanity.'
– New York Times
... a challenge to theatrical conventions, but even more so to social ones.
Disabled Theater is a performance of the encounter between maverick French choreographer Jérôme Bel and the artists of Zürich’s Theater HORA, a company that promotes and presents the work of people with intellectual disabilities. This playful but confrontational work is trademark Bel – a disconcertingly honest re-staging of the choreographer’s first meeting with the performers, where his questions and their presence reveal the dynamics of exclusion and the limits of political correctness. Disabled Theater is a profound reimagination of the stage and its possibilities – one that ultimately expands the humanity that we hold in common.
Jérôme Bel’s choreography has made him the leader of the non-dance movement – a democratizing aesthetic where presence supplants virtuosity. His collaboration with Theater HORA aligns with the company’s belief that people with intellectual disabilities need to be given space and tools to actively contribute to society and culture.
Since his early works, choreographer Jérôme Bel has been interested in what stands beyond representation. In his work, the rules of dance and theatre are treated like the syntax of a language that is analyzed and eventually put into play. Danced and spoken by professional as well as by amateur performers, his choreographies could also be seen as statements in favour of the democratization of dance, which he pursues by way of a non-virtuous approach.
He began choreographing in a style along the lines of non-dance, and became one of the leading figures of that movement, creating provocative and entertaining pieces influenced by performance art and challenging some of the conventions of performance.
Founded in 1993 in Zürich, the intention of Theater HORA is to support and promote the creative and artistic development of people with learning disabilities. It is essential that they can express themselves as ‘genuine’ individuals. HORA believes that people with learning disabilities possess unique talents and creativity enabling them to make an important cultural and social contribution to our society. It is the aim of all the activities of HORA Theatre to establish this view in the public opinion.
In partnership with World Stage, Theater HORA will host a unique 5-day workshop and theatre creation lab open to local performers (actors, dancers, singers, musicians) with developmental/intellectual disabilities to work collaboratively with Theater HORA company members.
Under the direction of Theater HORA’s artistic director, Michael Elber, the workshop will use improvisation and theatre games to create new work with participants. Working primarily without talking, participants will get a taste of Theater HORA’s creation process through demonstration and active contribution. Theater HORA is also excited for an exchange of information and techniques , and will encourage participants to share their established practices and knowledge.
Held around the world, the workshops create a network of artists in the field of inclusive theatre and performance who are interested in an exchange of artistic concepts and ways of working. Over the five days in-process works created during the workshop will be shown to the invited public through informal presentations.
The workshop is FREE. To apply: send a brief description of your performance background and experience, an explanation of why you’d like to take the workshop, and a short bio to the workshop facilitator, Ara Glenn-Johanson, at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, March 2. A maximum of 20 participants will be accepted.
The workshop will run March 19-23 from 9:30am-4pm, location TBD (but in the downtown core of Toronto). Participants are expected to attend all of the workshop days. Participants should be accompanied by a support person, and will need to arrange their own transportation and lunches.
*Please note that artists with physical disabilities are not the target participants for this workshop.
*This workshop is for adults only. Ages 18 and up.
Join us for a series of Pre-show Teas with our Harbourfront Centre Scholars-in-Residence. Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to the opening performance of Disabled Theater.
One of the objectives of Disabled Theater is to encourage us to question our notions of ability, power, and visibility. Jerome Bel’s production aims to take a hands-off approach—”to step back and let them have their freedom.” But how can an artist or advocate who is not disabled facilitate work from the perspectives of artists who are—without her or his own perspective taking over? Join Scholar-in-Residence Matthew Sergi, with guest respondent Ara Glenn-Johanson (a specialist in developmental disability’s representation in theatre), for a provocative and open pre-show tea and debate—in which we aerate some of the tough questions that Bel’s bold work must raise.
The second performance of each World Stage production is followed by our talkshow event, where the artists connect with the audience outside their work, fielding questions with the moderation of their colleagues in the community. Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to Disabled Theater.